or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › In-depth review: Kindle 2, the Apple TV of books
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

In-depth review: Kindle 2, the Apple TV of books

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
For its first year anniversary, Amazon gave its Kindle an all around hardware upgrade that has turned the quirky, cheap looking appliance into a streamlined and slick looking device. Will it be enough for Kindle 2 to hit a mainstream audience?

As our original review of the first-generation Kindle pointed out, Amazon's entry into the e-reader market wasn't entirely trailblazing. Sony's Reader and a variety of competing devices had already failed to make much of an impact on the market, despite a decade of trying. A marketing partnership between Sony and Borders to promote the Reader in the year prior to Kindle's debut made little headway.

With the Kindle however, Amazon applied its global mail order experience and leveraged its enormous catalog of titles (and subsequent pull among publishers) to put additional momentum behind the push to drive print publications into ebook territory. However, the first generation Kindle also demonstrated the company's lack of experience in building hardware.

The original Kindle was ugly and looked flimsy and cheap, ensuring that only the most avid of ebook users would pay for the privilege of test driving Amazon's e-reader experiment. The company only shipped about a half million Kindle devices last year. That's perhaps a significant achievement among e-readers but hardly the launch of a new mainstream way to access information.

This year, Kindle 2 (which we unboxed earlier) revamps its overall package considerably and drops its price slightly from $399 to $359, but retains E Ink, the core technology that is both the differentiating value of dedicated e-readers and their Achilles' Heel. E Ink uses much less power than a backlit LCD screen and is considerably cheaper to manufacture, but it also has a very slow refresh rate that makes it feel frustratingly plodding to an audience familiar with the rapid pace of the web.





For the leisured act of reading novels or long articles, Kindle 2's slight improvements in its screen refresh rate and its new ability to display 16 shades of grey make it about as ideally comfortable as any electronic replacement of the paper book could hope to be. Users can't expect the Kindle 2 to perform well outside of its core competency of book reading though.

Where the Kindle crumbles

In addition to reading books, Amazon presents the Kindle as a way to read newspapers and blogs, and even gives the device "experimental" software for browsing the web. However, as it moves from its sweet spot as a paperback novel proxy to become a general purpose browser of hyperlinked information, the wireless Kindle's premise begins to rapidly fall apart.



Kindle 2's browser isn't experimental because the software isn't finished; it's just that the Kindle 2 makes a really poor web browser because E Ink screens simply can't rapidly scale, display color or animation, input text rapidly in a non-frustrating way, rapidly jump between pages, or scroll across a page to enable a rapid inhaling of information.

Given that most people's experience (and particularly those in the Kindle 2's target demographic) with reading newspapers and blogs has already largely shifted to skimming articles within a web browser in full color, with video clips and user comments and social networking features, the E Ink-equipped Kindle can't pretend to keep up in that area.

The killer app that doesn't work so great

For books that serve as reference material rather than sequential reading, the same problems apply. It might seem that the extremely light weight and nearly pocketable Kindle 2 would make the perfect replacement for a heavy backpack full of textbooks, but the problem is that the swift shifts between sections in a textbook is simply a huge pain on an E Ink based e-reader device.

One can search for words and set up virtual bookmarks, but the relatively small screen of the Kindle 2, which is closer to that of a paperback novel than a full textbook, combined with the loss of the tactile page flipping we all use to dive into a large volume to find what we're looking for, and compounded by the limitations on presenting large color graphics and illustrations, simply add up to a second-class alternative to the paper textbook, even when considering the expense and weight that comes along with hundreds of pages of dead trees.



The fact that many textbooks aren't available in e-book formats is also a problem. Given the random-access needs inherent in textbooks, it seems like PDF editions suitable for reading with a notebook computer would make more sense than the form factor and technology used by Amazon's Kindle and similar e-readers.

On page 2 of 3: Kindle's sweet spot; Read it to me; and Cheaper, simpler, classier.

Kindle's sweet spot

That restricts the Kindle 2 largely to reading novels and longer newspaper and magazine articles. The more navigation involved, the less attractive the Kindle 2 becomes. For exploring a simple page turner, the Kindle works pretty well. Its display readability is enhanced over the already suitable original version; it lasts nearly forever on a charge; and it can download fresh content pretty rapidly from nearly anywhere without needing a PC to sync content to it.

While the population of serious readers with long attention spans appears to be receding, that market is closely tied to Amazon, the world's leader in hooking up readers to publishers. That makes the company's Kindle 2 the best positioned e-reader available. Digitally sending reading material to Kindle 2 users over its 3G mobile "Whispernet" service is also clearly more cost effective (not to mention environmentally sound) than printing books and mailing them around the country, particularly as fuel prices complicate shipping expenses.

However, that perfect target market for the Kindle 2 is also largely already attached to the visceral experience of curling up with a physical book. This promises to prevent the Kindle 2 from becoming the "iPod of books" that Amazon hopes it will become.

When Apple pounced upon the emerging MP3 player market earlier this decade, it didn't set out to fill the needs of audiophiles who sit in specially built rooms designed to ideally reproduce sound. Instead, Apple targeted a new class of music consumers: mobile, active people who casually listen to music in the background. Since then, the iPod has moved into audiobooks, pioneered podcasting, and adding gaming features. The latest iPod touch browses the web and handles push messaging and runs a variety of mobile software.

Kindle 2 does just the opposite however: it aims to replace how people have read books in the past, rather than guiding them to experience information in a new way. Its E Ink technology and form factor are all designed around replicating the ink on paper experience of a paperback, just as if Apple had attempted to introduce its iPod as a laser read, vinyl record player hooked up to a vacuum tube amp via gold plated connectors. That product would have only appealed to a limited niche, and likely would have offended a large chunk of that group. The Kindle 2 similarly only appeals to limited niche of hardcore readers, and can't hope to please those who prefer paper.

Read it to me

The closest Kindle 2 comes to breaking away from its attempt to copy the traditional past in electronic form is its support for audiobooks and for text to speech technology. Unfortunately, its size and shape makes it fairly ridiculous to use as primarily an audiobook player, a task already adequately handled by the pocket-sized iPod.

The Kindle 2's text to speech function, new to this revision, is more interesting. It allows readers to give their eyes a rest and be passively read to by the configurable speech synthesis technology. As the voice reads, the display is updated to stay on the same page, making it easy to follow along.

Nobody would confuse Kindle 2's synthetic voice with a human reader, but the new feature is quite usable and easy to understand. The Writer's Guild has complained about Amazon adding the feature, saying that ebooks aren't licensed to Amazon for performance. That has caused Amazon to promise to allow individual works to opt out of support for the speech reading feature, something only the most absurd of authors could possibly demand given the irritation it would invoke among users.

Cheaper, simpler, classier

Faced with the very real limitations on selling an E Ink e-reader, Amazon did its best to make its revised Kindle as attractive as possible to win over its frequent readers. Following cues from Apple, the Kindle 2 drops its user replaceable battery and its memory card reader to streamline the device and lower manufacturing costs.



It now ships with 2GB of installed memory, suitable for holding thousands of books. It also drops the original model's separate wireless switch entirely and combines its DC power plug and USB port to end up with a USB-powered device with a single sync and power cable similar to the iPhone.







Also like the iPhone, it moves the headphone jack to the top edge and centers its power/sync mini-USB connector at the bottom. The volume rocker switch is also moved from the clumsy original location on the bottom edge to the more accessible top right side. Its internal speakers are significantly improved, and navigation is greatly enhanced using a standard menu button together with a five way joystick controller, rather than the former model's oddball thumb dial and silvery LCD track.





The Kindle 2's page forward and back buttons are also placed more sensibly as discrete buttons rather than the 'active edges' of the original model that were just too easy to accidently bump when holding it. The keyboard is also enhanced, and while it remains less than ideal for entering more than a few words, at least it doesn't feel like a cheap plasticky mess or sharp-edged, oddly angled keys like the first model.

On page 3 of 3: The ebook catalog; Kindle 2.5: the same content on your phone; and The wrap.

The ebook catalog

Over the past year, Amazon has done more to improve the state of e-readers than simply improving its hardware. There have been significant advancements on the content side, too. A year ago, Amazon boasted 94,000 titles; today it offers 240,000 books for the Kindle.

The original eight newspapers offered last year have expanded to 31, 24 of which are from the US. The eight magazines available a year ago have expanded to 24, including "The New Yorker." The 310 different blogs offered last year have swelled to 1315. Of course, most blogs don't translate well to the Kindle's screen. And who wants to pay a couple dollars a month to access blog entries that are freely available on the web?

There are also libraries of free public domain books that can be read on Kindle, including those offered by Mobipocket, which Amazon also owns. Mobipocket's selection of paid e-books do not work on the Kindle however (nor do Amazon's Kindle titles work on platforms supported by Mobipocket's incompatible e-book format). The serviceable integrated Amazon Store isn't difficult to navigate, although it is hampered somewhat by the slow E Ink screen. The included wireless service, which works nearly anywhere Sprint's 3G EVDO service is available, makes obtaining content easy, although it takes a second or two to load pages in the store.

Kindle 2.5: the same content on your phone

In introducing the new Kindle 2, Amazon also announced plans to open its Kindle content for consumption through the devices users already have: mobile phones. The company hasn't revealed all the details yet, but just today introduced a new application will let iPhone and iPod touch owners access the same array of Kindle ebook content on their Apple device.

It will be interesting to see how consumers react: will they embrace e-books that come in a form they can consume without resorting to buy another $360 device to carry around, will they use the Kindle together with their smartphone to create a sync-able ecosystem of e-book readers to fit their needs of the moment, will they prefer the more book-like Kindle, or will they simply continue to ignore digital books and stick with paper?

The jury is still out, but that question is likely to be answered rather decisively within the next year.

The wrap

Kindle 2 strengthens Amazon's efforts to resuscitate ebooks and significantly improves upon its earlier hardware. While it's no iPod of books (perhaps its the "Apple TV of books" that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos should start referring to as his "hobby"), it might tempt an increasing share of avid readers to invest in a convenient and fast way to obtain and read material without the weight and wait of paper volumes.

If Amazon can triple its sales this year, it will at least achieve parity with Apple TV, establishing Amazon with a decent foothold in the e-reader market, which seems to be about as difficult to crack into as the digital video TV set top box.

Even with modest success, Amazon should begin to realize significant savings from digital delivery as it also helps green up its operations by doing away with unnecessary physical packaging and delivery in the publishing business in the same manner iTunes has for music and video. That's good news for the planet even if Kindle 2 doesn't ever achieve blockbuster sales.

Rating: 3 of 5


Pros

Dramatically improved form and finish
Better screen refresh and enhanced display
Navigation improved
Long battery life
Decent, expanding selection of content

Cons

Very slow E Ink display makes browsing clumsy and slow
Size is not really pocketable
Web, blogs, and reference material ill suited to e-reader technology
Lower price is still fairly high, particularly compared to a netbook

Where to buy

Amazon.com Kindle 2: $359
post #2 of 48
Darn, I must have typed www.kindleinsider.com into my address bar.
post #3 of 48
The device is sooo slick it will fall off tables, couches, beds frequently, and thats exactly what happened to me. Fell off a couch (not even 2 ft. in heigh) onto a hard wood floor and that somehow destroyed a corner of the e-ink which stopped displaying anything even though there is no visible damage!

Before the Kindle shills attack me for not being more careful, negligent etc. may I add that my Iphone has fallen to the ground many times yet continues to work fine.

Another major gripe is this: I subscribe to the WSJ. I go to a section, such as technology, and expect to see a list of stories.... right?.... WRONG! The Kindle just takes you to the first story and there is NO WAY to pick an choose which one you want to read. You have to go from one to the next. This is so brain dead that i decided not to keep this beautiful but fragile and counter intuitive product.
post #4 of 48
Apple TV of books? It that saying the Kindle won't be a success?
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Apple TV of books? It that saying the Kindle won't be a success?

I think Prince is suggesting it will take a little more from Amazon for the product to break out. And the sluggishness of the eInk display impedes the Kindle's ability to serve as a feasible web reader, etc. So right now he believes it will garner most attention from die-hard readers in the same way the Apple TV caters to videophiles but not the broader market.
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
post #6 of 48
An App is now on the iTunes store for the Kindle library of books. Article here along with download link: http://apple20.blogs.fortune.cnn.com...ce=yahoo_quote
post #7 of 48
I think that if I were in the market for such a device, I'd get a netbook rather than Kindle.
 
Reply
 
Reply
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Cons

Very slow E Ink display makes browsing clumsy and slow
Size is not really pocketable

I don't see how these two are even relevant as Cons. First, you don't expect to be able to pocket a regular sized book, do you? The Kindle is marketed towards those who love to read BOOKS (e.g. not surf the internet) and want to do so electronically without the bulkiness of a book, and still have it maintain the same size form factor and appearance of a typical printed page. Seems more to me that AppleInsider is trying to compare it to the features and capabilities of a netbook, when the fact is an e-reader like the Kindle and a netbook are two very different products.

Seriously?
post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

I think that if I were in the market for such a device, I'd get a netbook rather than Kindle.

With which you'll likely make it through at best a chapter or two before the battery dies.

It's certainly a valid point that the price of entry for a single-use device is a little bit high, esp when compared to a virtually limitless device such as a netbook. However, I'd argue that the Kindle almost certainly handles that single use far better than a netbook would.

If the cost were brought down to $199, a lot more people would jump, especially anyone who commutes. I'm sure a lot of people said that about the iPod once upon a time too. Its price came down (and down and down) over time; so too will that of the Kindle.
post #10 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by iReality85 View Post

Seriously?

Perhaps I read into this wrong, but reading the article felt as though the author had made up their mind before even touching the device and was really stretching to find something, anything to make it positive.

That said, web browsing (albeit in a limited fashion) is advertised as a feature. It's good to know that it's not a particularly practical feature
post #11 of 48
I think the seamless integration of purchasing the media itself is pretty revolutionary. And it has received 4 stars from 649 cunstomer reviews so people do like it.
However I'm not surprised that it won't be liked here at AI.
Afterall this is not the Amazon Insider.
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames42 View Post

Perhaps I read into this wrong, but reading the article felt as though the author had made up their mind before even touching the device and was really stretching to find something, anything to make it positive.


Agreed.
post #13 of 48
I find it slightly funny, and a bit ironic, that Google AdSense has placed a Sony Reader advertisement at the bottom of the page when reading comments
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Agreed.

There are many criticisms, but I don't agree that it's a flat-out negative review. And I read it several times while proofing it.

Prince gave the first incarnation of the Apple TV the same exact rating.

K
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
post #15 of 48
I absolutely love the Kindle 2!

I'm also anxious to see the Kindle FOR STUDENTS (Kindle 3) that's coming out this year.

Right now I'm reading one of the best autobiographies I've ever read in my life on the Kindle (warning--it's not a book for the faint of heart/weak of stomach). It's the memoir by Bin Laden's mistress Kola Boof "Diary of a Lost Girl" and when you have really great books that mix literary sense with high entertainment then you get hooked on these E-readers pretty quickly.

My only complaint about these things are the price. I think Amazon really needs to find a way to lower the price on the Kindle or they won't be competitive.
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames42 View Post

I find it slightly funny, and a bit ironic, that Google AdSense has placed a Sony Reader advertisement at the bottom of the page when reading comments

LOL!

Me, too.

That's cute.
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames42 View Post

Perhaps I read into this wrong, but reading the article felt as though the author had made up their mind before even touching the device and was really stretching to find something, anything to make it positive.

That said, web browsing (albeit in a limited fashion) is advertised as a feature. It's good to know that it's not a particularly practical feature

I also agree. Trying to draw comparisons between the Kindle and a netbook is a bit unfair to the Kindle, no? I'm in no way trolling for the Kindle (lol), but I call things like I see it, and this article does a bit of bemoaning when it comes to the Kindle's features. Actually, scratch that, the experience of using those features. E-Ink is still relatively new, so I wouldn't necessarily expect that it would be capable of having lightning fast refresh rates and doing what standard LCDs can. As for web-browsing/Wi-Fi, I think that it is there merely as an added convenience. IMO, who would want to surf the internet in monochromo? Heck no, I'd want to do that in fantastic, glorious technicolor on any one of various other devices. But the Kindle does great what it is supposed to do, and this is to make ebooks look like the real thing.
post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasper View Post

There are many criticisms, but I don't agree that it's a flat-out negative review. And I read it several times while proofing it.

Prince gave the first incarnation of the Apple TV the same exact rating.

K

We're not saying it's flat out negative but it does read a tad more than slightly biased.

I also don't recall the Apple TV ever being referred to as an experiment.
post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I think the seamless integration of purchasing the media itself is pretty revolutionary. And it has received 4 stars from 649 cunstomer reviews so people do like it.
However I'm not surprised that it won't be liked here at AI.
Afterall this is not the Amazon Insider.


Well hold your horses. I happen to be an Apple Girl and I love the Kindle 2.

A huge reason is the Text-to-Speech feature.

I have a fettish for "erotica" (mainly Jackie Christian in the Kindle Store) and
let me tell you--until you've heard the Kindle 2 Female Robot reading you a
good down and dirty Jackie Christian sex book, you haven't lived!



The other book I mentioned in my first post is good for that, too, but that one's
more serious and I gotta actually read it.

Has anyone else notice that when you have an E-reader you seem to read
a lot more books? I certainly do.

If anyone knows any other great reads (I'm talking really sensational books
that you read in like one day), please turn me on to them.

I'm almost done with Bin Laden's mistress and I just barely got it. I need a new
page turner caliber type book!
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasper View Post

There are many criticisms, but I don't agree that it's a flat-out negative review. And I read it several times while proofing it.

Prince gave the first incarnation of the Apple TV the same exact rating.

I apologise if I seem overly critical of the review; there are certainly some pros mentioned in the review, it just sounds as if it was written by someone who doesn't think an E-Reader device will ever take off (which in point is debatable - as you said, most avid readers love to hold paper, and I'm one of them - but I think it will just take some time to accept the tradeoff of convenience of being able to carry a virtual library of books, much as most people have accepted the tradeoff of diminished sound quality of MP3/AAC with the ability to carry a huge collection of music).

As for the AppleTV review - I may have to go back and read that again, as it seems to be a very unpopular device (especially amongst AI readers who don't own one). I, on the other hand, while recognising that it does have flaws, find it to be the single best addition to my home theatre. It gets twice as much use as my HD DVD, Cable, Wii, and all my other devices combined (of course hacking it to play DivX content has allowed me to virtually disconnect my old Philips DVP642, but I digress).
post #21 of 48
I think Amazon Put a gun in there mouth and pulled the trigger when they released an iPhone version of the Kindle. So if I can download this app for FREE, and then just pay for my books from Amazon, whats the point of spending $200+ on a Kindle?

The iPhone is basically a kindle. BUT, with a better internet browser, e-mail, an iPod, and a cellphone all in one... and of course no E-ink.

I understand this is Amazons way of getting people to buy a Kindle. But, I think its too soon to put this App out on Apple's app store.
post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenkman91 View Post

I think Amazon Put a gun in there mouth and pulled the trigger when they released an iPhone version of the Kindle. So if I can download this app for FREE, and then just pay for my books from Amazon, whats the point of spending $200+ on a Kindle?

The iPhone is basically a kindle. BUT, with a better internet browser, e-mail, an iPod, and a cellphone all in one... and of course no E-ink.

I understand this is Amazons way of getting people to buy a Kindle. But, I think its too soon to put this App out on Apple's app store.


Do you think people other than kids will really try and read an entire book on a
Cell Phone?

We're going to have major vision problems in this country.

I think Amazon is pretty smart putting out the FREE app, because eventually it will
make I Phone users hungry for the comforts of a Kindle.

Most people who want these Apps are true "book lovers" so once their eyes
start hurting from straining so much they'll be dying for a nice big Kindle.
post #23 of 48
I also like the fact the you can get a full book in less than 60 seconds.
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames42 View Post

I apologise if I seem overly critical of the review; there are certainly some pros mentioned in the review, it just sounds as if it was written by someone who doesn't think an E-Reader device will ever take off (which in point is debatable - as you said, most avid readers love to hold paper, and I'm one of them - but I think it will just take some time to accept the tradeoff of convenience of being able to carry a virtual library of books, much as most people have accepted the tradeoff of diminished sound quality of MP3/AAC with the ability to carry a huge collection of music).

As for the AppleTV review - I may have to go back and read that again, as it seems to be a very unpopular device (especially amongst AI readers who don't own one). I, on the other hand, while recognising that it does have flaws, find it to be the single best addition to my home theatre. It gets twice as much use as my HD DVD, Cable, Wii, and all my other devices combined (of course hacking it to play DivX content has allowed me to virtually disconnect my old Philips DVP642, but I digress).

I agree with most of what you said. Yes, it's our collective view that it will take more than what the Kindle 2 offers for the device to really take off, as was similarly the case with the iPod when you think about it. It took some refinement and some market traction.

I also love the Apple TV. At first it was pointless and sat collecting dust, given that it was hooked up to an HDTV with no HD content. But as more and more HD content arrives, I'm using it more and more. It's extremely convenient for quickly accessing HD content of your liking when there's nothing of interest on TV, you've missed an episode of your favorite show, or you don't feel like going to a video store.
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
post #25 of 48
You really can't have it both ways. If "not pocketable" is a con, you can't complain that the screen isn't big enough.

Kindle has a primary function: reading books, and ePaper isn't a con, it's a HUGE plus. The fact that it's insufficient for websurfing doesn't make the choice of ePaper for the Kindle into a con. The iPhone is a LOUSY book reading device and in its current form will never be able to match the Kindle on usability because of ePaper.

I don't own a Kindle and I'm not sure I will, but c'mon, credit where credit's due. Amazon didn't put Whispernet into the Kindle for websurfing, it put it there to service the Kindle's primary function: book-reading. It's there to buy books and to research things within books that users are reading. The fact that a browser's there is that it's better than nothing, which is the exact same argument that most of us made when the iPhone was EDGE-only: sure, it make be sssllloooowww and a pain in the ass, but slow web is better than no web.

Again, credit where it's due.

For the life of me I don't know why they made it thinner instead of just easier to hold. Contoured and asymmetrical (with the ability to rotate the screen to accommodate other-handedness) and with a textured surface so you didn't have to hold onto it quite so tightly.

And why not more fonts? Why not be able to rip the fonts you have on your Mac or PC and install them on your Kindle to read your books using those?

The iPod didn't create a new type of music listener, the Walkman did that. What the iPod did was perfectly reproduce the experience of the Walkman user and then surpass it. Even so, the iPod broke no new ground as far as use-cases went, it just improved on existing ones. The iTunes Store, maybe (tho that was a Mac/PC-based experience until the iPhone) and the App Store (again, iPhone) broke new ground, but the iPod? People were doing mobile video before the iPod, too.

The difficulty with books is that content is married to form, and Kindle (and Rocket eBook and Peanut Press and Soft Book and Sony Reader) split content and container. No one knows what to call anything. Back in the last major eBook push, the devices themselves were called eBooks and what you purchased from powells.com and barnesandnoble.com were titles. Now the device is called a reader. A READER? Sure, the Kindle now does text to speech, but the Kindle 1 was called a reader. Sony's device is called Reader. They don't read the book to you. A book is an object, but an eBook (what is now the electronic file you purchase from amazon) isn't an object any more than a song is an object. It doesn't match. People buy songs on iTunes, but back in the day, people didn't buy songs, they bought records or cassettes or CDs.

The confusion in the nomenclature illustrates the confusion in what to think of books. Everyone seems to assume that books are just another category of media to go digital and they're not, clearly. Reading is a more personal experience than the others. It's not a huge deal to any reader than they can carry around a thousand books with them, only that they have that ONE BOOK that they're SO INTO at the moment, or that they can pick up and begin reading that NEXT ONE they've been so ready to dig into if they happen to finish the current one before they get home or get to a bookstore.

It's this last part that makes Whispernet so appealing to us tweedy, invested, investible readers: we're reading that book and we're not ever gonna be stuck without having that next book in hand.

Web surfing? In a book? That's what my friggin' iPhone is for.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenkman91 View Post

I think Amazon Put a gun in there mouth and pulled the trigger when they released an iPhone version of the Kindle. So if I can download this app for FREE, and then just pay for my books from Amazon, whats the point of spending $200+ on a Kindle?

Completely disagree. If anything, the iPhone app makes me more inclined to get a Kindle. If you read the CNET comparison of the two, you'll see one of the biggest complaints (which I completely agree with) of using the iPhone as a reader. The screen is simply too small.

However, my biggest complaint about the Kindle is that it's too big. Ahh, if there's ever a finger pointing at someone who's never satisfied

The thing is, I'm not going to carry a Kindle with me everywhere I go. I do carry my iPhone however, and I will carry a Kindle when I commute. With the wireless syncing between them, I can read the Kindle when it's convenient to carry, and when it's not, I can read a little on the iPhone. The syncing keeps track of where you are in the book--when I pick up my iPhone, it'll pick up where I left off on the Kindle.

The two things now keeping me from buying one:
  1. The price - $359 is a little too high. Bring it down to $200 and I'll be more inclined. I believe this will happen in the next year or so.
  2. The cost of the books. For many books, Amazon allows me to "add-on" the electronic version. I bought the Final Cut Express 3.5 Editing Workshop book for about $25. For $7 I can have access to an online electronic edition. If I could do something similar with Kindle books -- have both print and Kindle formats without having to pay full price for both, that'd just about do it for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissRose2 View Post

A huge reason is the Text-to-Speech feature.

I have a fettish for "erotica" (mainly Jackie Christian in the Kindle Store) and
let me tell you--until you've heard the Kindle 2 Female Robot reading you a
good down and dirty Jackie Christian sex book, you haven't lived!

Now that's got to be the most unique selling point I've heard yet! I'm sure there are some tech bloggers out there who'd love to hear this. Perhaps you should contact Leo Laporte - he'd love to hear from you...! (And I'm honestly not teasing you!)

Quote:
Has anyone else notice that when you have an E-reader you seem to read
a lot more books? I certainly do.

Actually I'm really glad to hear this. Despite my concerns above, I'm still considering a Kindle, especially since I'm about to (re)start commuting by bus and will have lots of reading time on my hands. When I bought my first iPod some years ago, I thought it would be a nifty toy that wouldn't get much use. I now rarely go a day where it's not in almost constant use. I'm hoping the Kindle will have that affect on my reading.

Quote:
If anyone knows any other great reads (I'm talking really sensational books
that you read in like one day), please turn me on to them.

Are you asking for book recommendations? I'm sure everyone here will have their favourites, but I can tell you (bar far) the best book I've read in years is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I've not felt so attached to characters in a book in a long time. I'm sorry, it doesn't appear to be available for the Kindle however
post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissRose2 View Post

Do you think people other than kids will really try and read an entire book on a
Cell Phone?

We're going to have major vision problems in this country.

.

haha. True, but, if you have an iPhone, then you already know this is just not any other cell phone Where you are stuck with one size font. If you read the description of the app, it allows one to resize the font to where it is easy on the eyes to read.
post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by iReality85 View Post

The Kindle is marketed towards those who love to read BOOKS (e.g. not surf the internet) and want to do so electronically without the bulkiness of a book, and still have it maintain the same size form factor and appearance of a typical printed page. Seems more to me that AppleInsider is trying to compare it to the features and capabilities of a netbook, when the fact is an e-reader like the Kindle and a netbook are two very different products

Consider people like myself who would like to use the Kindle to peruse technical reference books (in addition to casual reading). I might be looking through a reference book, then need to go out to the web for more information/examples, and then back to the book again. The Kindle doesn't really meet the needs for that particular case.

Book reading takes many forms these days. That's where the Kindle fails imo. It needs to have the capability to support all reading situations, not just the "paperback on transit" scenario.
 
Reply
 
Reply
post #29 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames42 View Post

Completely disagree. If anything, the iPhone app makes me more inclined to get a Kindle. If you read the CNET comparison of the two, you'll see one of the biggest complaints (which I completely agree with) of using the iPhone as a reader. The screen is simply too small.

However, my biggest complaint about the Kindle is that it's too big. Ahh, if there's ever a finger pointing at someone who's never satisfied

The thing is, I'm not going to carry a Kindle with me everywhere I go. I do carry my iPhone however, and I will carry a Kindle when I commute. With the wireless syncing between them, I can read the Kindle when it's convenient to carry, and when it's not, I can read a little on the iPhone. The syncing keeps track of where you are in the book--when I pick up my iPhone, it'll pick up where I left off on the Kindle.

The two things now keeping me from buying one:
  1. The price - $359 is a little too high. Bring it down to $200 and I'll be more inclined. I believe this will happen in the next year or so.
  2. The cost of the books. For many books, Amazon allows me to "add-on" the electronic version. I bought the Final Cut Express 3.5 Editing Workshop book for about $25. For $7 I can have access to an online electronic edition. If I could do something similar with Kindle books -- have both print and Kindle formats without having to pay full price for both, that'd just about do it for me.


Do you really want to carry around two devices with you?? the Kindle, is still a bulk to carry around. (yes I know its smaller) but still, if i have an iPhone, why do I need a kindle?

the iphone is cheaper than the kindle, and with the iPhone, I get 3x the features and on a beautiful color multi touch screen.

Also, if the font on the iPhone is too small to read, simply just resize it. In the app description it says that one can easily resize the font so its easy to read.
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasper View Post

I agree with most of what you said. Yes, it's our collective view that it will take more than what the Kindle 2 offers for the device to really take off, as was similarly the case with the iPod when you think about it. It took some refinement and some market traction.

That's actually a very good point. I think I may have alluded to it in a previous response, which I to realise kinda makes me the proverbial pot...

Quote:
I also love the Apple TV. At first it was pointless and sat collecting dust, given that it was hooked up to an HDTV with no HD content. But as more and more HD content arrives, I'm using it more and more. It's extremely convenient for quickly accessing HD content of your liking when there's nothing of interest on TV, you've missed an episode of your favorite show, or you don't feel like going to a video store.

Also a good point. I bought mine sometime after Take 2, so there was already a lot of content out there. That said, most of the TV shows I've bought have been in SD. My only season pass so far has been for Grey's Anatomy (in HD), and I don't find the difference between the SD and HD versions to be enough to warrant the extra cost (it was actually an experiment getting the HD). Now when I buy episodes of Battlestar Galactica, I definitely go for HD. Partially because of the better contrast in darker scenes, but at least as much because of Dolby Digital audio

As I've mentioned several times in other threads, my love for the Apple TV is that I'm not much of a TV person, but I do have my shows. I see no reason to give Comcast $1200/year for HD service (the great majority of which I won't use) when I can pay about $200/year to purchase the shows I do watch. They come in with no commercials, and I can re-watch them whenever I want. I then pay $14/month to Comcast for local channels (so I can watch the news, and a handful of other shows).

I also love all the free video content (much of it in HD) I get through video podcasts.

Apologies to everyone for hijacking the Kindle thread and turning it into the AppleTV discussion thread
post #31 of 48
The AppleTV of books is about right. Both are hobbies and yet we all know digital content is the future. It's a matter of when and not if. I think the problem the Kindle has is the same as the ATV too. Price. The devices are too expensive and the content is priced too high as well. Most customers are comfortable with reading paper books or playing DVDs until the ATV and Kindle stories become more attractive to them.

My beef with the article is the Cons summary at the end.


Very slow E Ink display makes browsing clumsy and slow? Who cares. Not marketed as an internet browser. It's a sideshow miles away from the main attraction.

Size is not really pocketable. Should it be? I mean in the article the author complains the Kindle doens't have a screen the size of a text book and then his con is that it is not pocketable. I think the con should be the screen is too small. I would welcome a larger screen.

Web, blogs, and reference material ill suited to e-reader technology. Again the complaint about web surfing seems to be missing the point of the Kindle. It's a book & document reader first.

Lower price is still fairly high, particularly compared to a netbook. I agree the price is too high, but why compare it to a netbook? The devices are aimed at different needs/markets.

So I think the author is offbase knocking the Kindle for what it really doesn't try to be.

Also I think the author downplays the E-INK screen and what it does for reading as well as the convenience of having many books in such a small device.
post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenkman91 View Post

Also, if the font on the iPhone is too small to read, simply just resize it. In the app description it says that one can easily resize the font so its easy to read.

Yes, that's true, but I challenge you to do that and then tell me it really improves the reading experience. I do have eReader (and Stanza) on my iPhone, both of which allow dynamic resizing of text. But with the small screen, this greatly reduces the amount of text you get on a 'page'. You might not think that flipping pages so frequently would be a big deal, but it does make reading more tiring and tedious. I'd probably compare it to reading a large print book. You'd have to turn the pages three times as often, and I doubt you'd enjoy the experience as much.
post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by trip1ex View Post

The devices are too expensive and the content is priced too high as well. Most customers are comfortable with reading paper books or playing DVDs until the ATV and Kindle stories become more attractive to them.

Price of content does bring up a side issue that I've thought about a lot recently. 99% of my music purchases these days is electronic, iTunes and Amazon MP3. But how many of us find pleasure in popping into a used CD shop and flipping through and finding gems for $4? As days go by and less people are buying physical media, the amount of used media will dry up.

Same goes for books. We've got a great local chain here in Seattle called Twice-Sold Tales. I love bringing in a cup of coffee and thumbing through the shelves looking for some great books I probably wouldn't have come across using amazon.com. Amazon.com also doesn't provide the lovely smell of used books, and the fluffy cats to pet. I'm sure some may think that's a good thing, but I'll miss the experience!
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames42 View Post

With which you'll likely make it through at best a chapter or two before the battery dies.

It's very rare that I travel for more than 3 hours at a time without having access to power of some sort. Almost all flights have plug-ins these days, and the only touring bus I've ridden lately also had a plug-in. And for long car rides, there are power adapters.
Quote:
It's certainly a valid point that the price of entry for a single-use device is a little bit high, esp when compared to a virtually limitless device such as a netbook. However, I'd argue that the Kindle almost certainly handles that single use far better than a netbook would.

See my other comment about how reading paperbacks on transit is only one of a few reading tasks I'd like to solve with something like Kindle.
 
Reply
 
Reply
post #35 of 48
I think that the bottom line is that K2 does the core read-a-book thing very well (compact and light weight, decent display quality/size, long battery life, very easy to buy content), but the add-ons (browser etc.) not so well. Remember that those are add-ons, and not the main purpose.

Amazon might have helped themselves by imitating the cell phone market model more closely and subsidizing the initial purchase price to a greater degree through higher prices on the books themselves. I suspect that $350 is a tough sell for what's still a novel (no pun intended...) concept.
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I think the seamless integration of purchasing the media itself is pretty revolutionary. And it has received 4 stars from 649 cunstomer reviews so people do like it.
However I'm not surprised that it won't be liked here at AI.
Afterall this is not the Amazon Insider.

I've not seen many (if any) people on this list say the don't like the Kindle. The debate is whether it is the best/ultimate solution for eBook reading.
I personally like the low power consumption of ePaper, but don't like the idea of YAD (yet another device.)
If a touch had a mode switch to go to something like ePaper, that would be perfect for me.
I just downloaded the Kindle App for my touch, and will load up a few books for my upcoming vacation and see how it works out.
I tend to think I'll gravitate to eBooks for technical, 'have to read' stuff, and stay with hard copy for curling up. But who knows what will happen with the upcoming generation. Guess we have to stay tuned.
post #37 of 48
I bought an iPod in 2004 because combined with Audible.com it allows me to drive or workout and read books at the same time. Since then I've spent $23/month on my audible subscription and bought 4 iPods to replace, upgrade, or give to my wife so she would stop borrowing mine.

I would never have done that for the sake of casual music use, but once I had the iPod, and iTunes and a reason to connect to my computer I started spending money on music again.

I'm not going to buy a Kindle 2, but when there are a million titles available, and audio performances are bundled with the text, and I can have it read to me the 5-10 journal articles (in .PDF) that I have to read for professional reasons every month, it might well replace my iPod.

I just need the gadget geeks, the early adopters, and the few book enthusiasts who don't also distain electronic reading to keep increasing the market until the consumer model matures like the iPod.

No product (not even the iPhone) will ever be the iPod of any new market. The positioning of the iPod at that particular moment in digital consumer development is unique. The world has changed, nothing digital will ever be that revolutionary again.
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

We're not saying it's flat out negative but it does read a tad more than slightly biased.

I also don't recall the Apple TV ever being referred to as an experiment.

Just a 'hobby'.

But seriously.. what are the alternatives?
1) don't talk about it? Unlikely, since Kindle/touch/iPhone overlap in functionality
2) ignore its shortcomings and just rave about it just because its not from Apple? I'll go to CNET if I want that.

I think its a pretty balanced article.
post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by iReality85 View Post

I don't see how these two are even relevant as Cons. First, you don't expect to be able to pocket a regular sized book, do you? The Kindle is marketed towards those who love to read BOOKS (e.g. not surf the internet) and want to do so electronically without the bulkiness of a book, and still have it maintain the same size form factor and appearance of a typical printed page. Seems more to me that AppleInsider is trying to compare it to the features and capabilities of a netbook, when the fact is an e-reader like the Kindle and a netbook are two very different products.

Seriously?

They are cons to anyone who isn't a die-hard book reader, which is the overall point he's trying to make. This is a niche product, and will continue to be one. The Kindle isn't going to inspire more people to read on the run; it will only help those who already do that, which is a small and dying breed.
post #40 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Just a 'hobby'.

But seriously.. what are the alternatives?
1) don't talk about it? Unlikely, since Kindle/touch/iPhone overlap in functionality
2) ignore its shortcomings and just rave about it just because its not from Apple? I'll go to CNET if I want that.

I think its a pretty balanced article.

Well then let's review the lates Nikon digital cameras as well. Both it and the iPhone take pictures- only one's for serious photography and the other's not. Same thing here- only substitute reading for photography.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Current Mac Hardware
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › In-depth review: Kindle 2, the Apple TV of books